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xv                                 A   PLAGUE   OF   VOLES                              477
They have, in the case of the first three, transverse ridges, from
which stand up two sharp and long tubercles. The other teeth
have two ridges. The incisors axe pale yellow. The shape of
the teeth and the smallness of the caecum suggest that this
Rodent is not so purely a vegetarian as others, and that it
nourishes itself largely upon insects.
Sub-Fam. 8. Microtinae.—The Voles or Water-Bats form a
distinct group of Murine animals, to which the sub-family
name of Microtinae has been applied from the genus Microtits
(more generally known as ^irvwoltz), a genus which includes
the Water-Hat and Ifleld-Voles of this country. This genus
has short ears, and a short and hairy tail. Its build is
stouter and clumsier than that of the Hats. The genus is
confined to the Palaearctic and the ISTearctic regions. In this
country there are three species. The best known is the Water-
Vole or Water-Hat, M. amphibius, which has been seen by
most people, and which frequents streams, ponds, and canals.
The feet, curiously enough, are not webbed, -which seems to
argue the recent adoption of an aquatic life. Mr. Trevor-
Battye has remarked that this animal, when swimming at
leisure, uses its hind-limbs only, carrying the fore pair at
the sides like a Seal. The Bank-Vole, M. glareolus, is rather a
local species in this country. It is a terrestrial Vole, and
burrows. The Field-Vole, M. agrestis, has became notorious on
account of the "plagues," to which its immense numbers have
on occasions given rise. It is the smallest species, and has a
greyish-brown fur like the Water-Vole, the Bank-Vole being
redder. To give an idea of the cost of the depredations of this
animal, Mr. Scherren quotes * a farmer who gave evidence before
the Agricultural Commission to the effect that, putting the
damage of one Vole at two pence, the amount of loss suffered on
a farm of 6500 acres in two years would "be £50,000 S
The genus Fiber comes very near the last. It is a North
American genus. The hind-feet are slightly webbed; the tail is
a trifle shorter than the body, and is compressed and scaly, with
scattered hairs. The thumb is short, but with a fully-developed
claw. As in the last genus, the small and large intestines are
roughly of the same length, and the caecum is about one-fourth
of the length of either. It is known as the " Musquash.**
1 Popular NaAwrOfl History of Animals^ London, 1S98.